Chapter 2: Skater Flapjax

Chapter 2 timing: 15 minutes

Post 1: Flapjax the Olympian

It was way past bedtime, and Flapjax — the lovable (if mischievous) stuffed bear that he was — knew he should have been asleep. He had been curled up beside his best human friend, Libby, all snuggly and warm, and he had just started to doze off when his nose twitched.

Flapjax inhaled deeply. The smell of something warm and buttery filled the room. He sat straight up in bed, wide awake. The heavenly smell was coming from downstairs.

He had to investigate!

Flapjax carefully crawled off the bed and padded his way to the stairs, trying not to wake Libby up as he snuck his way to the snack. He made his way slowly down the stairs, cautiously avoiding the creaky spots on the steps. When he got to the landing halfway down, he belly-crawled to the corner of the big step where he could peek around the wall and get a better view of the field. And that’s when he spotted it.

Popcorn. A big, red bowl was overflowing with the puffy, buttery snack.

Bowl of popcorn

Flapjax’s tummy growled again. He rubbed his paws over his stomach, trying to tell it to quiet down. He had to focus.

How could he get to the popcorn?

Mom and Dad were perched on the couch on either side of his target.

Flapjax looked down at the steps and knew it could take a little bear a very long time to get all the way down and across the living room. Then he looked up and saw the railing – a perfectly smooth slide angled directly in the direction of the couch…

Flapjax leapt up and grabbed the railing with both paws. He swung back and forth, back and forth until he was high enough to flip his legs over the railing and climb on top.

He positioned himself belly-down on the railing, counted to three in his head, and let go.

Flapjax sliding down bannister

With a whoooooosh, Flapjax was sliding down the railing at wizard-speed and immediately regretting his move. He closed his eyes and tried not to scream as he sailed tail-first through the air.

Just a few short, heart-pumping seconds later, Flapjax smacked into the window on the opposite side of the room, leaving a tail print on the clear glass. He fell to the ground, dazed, then wobbled to his feet and shook himself off. He rubbed his bottom where it was red from the window’s rude interference.

Back on track, Flapjax hid behind a tall, leafy plant, hoping his parents had missed his rather unfortunate trip across the room. Luckily, they were still sitting on the couch, making their way through Flapjax’s snack. The TV was on, and there was music coming from the speakers set up around the room. Flapjax tore his eyes away from the bowl of popcorn to see what the grownups were so focused on, and his mouth gaped with amazement.

On the TV, a girl in a frilly, blue, sparkly costume glided around a white floor while music played and people cheered around her. The music was thrilling, and Flapjax felt his tail begin to move with the beat. The gliding girl spun and jumped, defying gravity with each move. Flapjax stared, entranced, until the music faded and a new tune came on, a tune he had heard before. He crept out of his hiding place to get a better view of the screen.

“Flapjax? What in the world are you doing down here? It’s way past bedtime!”

Mom was hovering above him, eyebrows raised.

Flapjax sighed. It had been a long night, and he was pretty pooped. Bed wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Mom picked him up and walked him toward the stairs.

“Were you watching the Olympics with us?” she asked, patting Flapjax on head.

The Olympics! Yes! He remembered that last tune from another time, long ago in the summer, when he and Libby had watched the events daily, practicing gymnastics routines on the furniture whenever they could.

“Don’t worry, you can watch ice skating with us tomorrow.”

Ice skating! Flapjax could be an ice skater. He felt his eyes start to close as he pictured himself sailing across the ice, spinning and flipping through the air with ease.

Flapjax was almost asleep on Mom’s shoulder, ready to be tucked back into bed, when he heard a loud crunch behind them. His eyes popped open, and he renewed his focus on the popcorn, eyeing Dad with a jealous glare when he saw the empty bowl at his side. A little growl of annoyance escaped his mouth.

But Mom knew him well, ”Don’t worry,” she whispered. “I’ll make more tomorrow — just for you and Libby.”

Flapjax sighed and let visions of skating glory and golden medals fill his dreams. He couldn’t wait until tomorrow…

Olympics rings


Post 2: Dreams of Glory

Flapjax was officially obsessed. Each and every time he heard the glorious notes,“BUM-BUM-BA-bum-bum-bum-bum…”, resound from the TV, he marched to the beat until he was fixed directly in front of the screen. Perfect viewing position.

Libby loved the hockey games and would cheer with Dad whenever a fight broke out on the ice (which happened a whole lot, but for some reason the players only had to sit in time-out for a few minutes…if Flapjax got in a fight, he’d be punished for weeks! Unfair.). Hockey confused Flapjax though – it was so fast! And there was no music to move your tail to.

Flapjax preferred ice skating.

Ice skating was a fantastic sport. The skaters got to dress up and dance all by themselves on a big empty rink while everyone else watched. Ice skaters were stars.

And on top of it all, the audience threw flowers and stuffed animals to the ice skaters when they were finished! Now that was a Flapjax-approved sport.

Each night, Flapjax fell asleep dreaming of skating to glory at the Olympics…

Flapjax dreaming of skating in the Olympics

But as I am sure you have realized by now, dreaming is never quite enough for Flapjax. And when the weather outside turned snowy and frigid, icicles dangled from the edge of the house, and the only sport on during the day was the luge (which scared Flapjax to death), he got an idea.

Flapjax figured that if it was cold enough for icicles, then it was cold enough for ice on the fishpond out back in the yard. Ice meant ice skating, and Flapjax was dying to test out his skills.

Now, Flapjax rarely had a hard time convincing Libby to do something fun, but when he told her about his skating plans, she looked at him with a crooked eyebrow that silently said “You’re crazy, Flapjax,” which naturally made Flapjax angry.

Libby refused to go tramping through the backyard when it was freezing out, just to find a pond that might or might not be frozen enough to skate on. Plus, she had hot chocolate and movies to watch inside where it was toasty warm. But chocolate was bad for bears, and Flapjax never got any, which always made him grumpy.

Libby suggested they make a big bowl of popcorn with lots of butter — a treat that normally made stubborn stuffed bears more agreeable. But Flapjax was already in a mood and was not to be convinced.

And so as Libby and Mom positioned themselves in front of the popcorn maker, and as the noise of the popping kernels drowned out everything else, Flapjax tip-toed through the kitchen and out the back door.

*****

Unfortunately for Flapjax, while a few inches may not be that much snow for most people, for a tiny stuffed bear gung-ho on hiking across the whole backyard, it was pretty devastating. Flapjax stared at the snow in front of him. It was already up to his tail!

But he wouldn’t give up – that’s not Flapjax’s style.

He made his way across the back porch and down the steps, slipping and sliding as he went. On the second step, Flapjax felt his feet move out from under him without his approval, and before he could think, he was flying down the rest of the steps until he landed hard on the cold concrete, smack on his backside.

But Flapjax was not to be stopped — not by Libby, not by the delicious aroma of popcorn he could still smell coming from the house, and certainly not by a little bit of snow. He kept picturing the ice skaters he had seen on TV, and he longed to be one more than anything. He had to at least try!

So Flapjax stood up straight, shook off the snow that had made its way onto his fur, and started on his march through the backyard.

*****

After what felt like hours of pushing his way through snow piles, Flapjax was pretty grumpy. He was going to make it to the pond if it took all night! (But he really didn’t want it to take all night – it was so cold, and Flapjax was still kind of scared of the dark (don’t tell Libby)). So he hoofed and hoofed, hoping he could get there before it was too late.

All of a sudden, Flapjax stumbled.

“Ouuuuuch!” Flapjax thought as he sat and rubbed his toe. What had he walked into? He felt around until he found a stone frog. It had been completely covered by the snow.

stone frog statue

He’d made it! The fishpond!

Flapjax crouched down and used his paws to wipe away snow from the surface of the pond. Yup, it was nice and icy beneath the snow. He couldn’t see any fish though – he hoped they were warm enough!

Without another second of hesitation, Flapjax began walking out onto the ice, creeping gently across the surface of the pond.

Lilypad


Post 3: Let the Games Begin

Flapjax glided gracefully across the ice of the fishpond. He leapt and spun, and while he was on paws instead of skates, he was pretty sure he was just as good as any Olympian.

As the sky grew darker and the air colder, Flapjax realized he needed to abandon his practice and head back inside.

Before leaving the ice for good, Flapjax rounded the pond one last time before sliding to center rink to complete one final, glorious spin. And that’s when he heard it – a cracking sound coming from beneath him. He gulped and tried to softly slide to the edge of the pond. Unfortunately, a stuffed bear soaked in snow is heavier than he appears, and after just a few careful steps, the ice shifted under his feet. Before he knew what was happening, Flapjax was falling through the ice into the dark, frigid water.

flapjax the bear falling through the iceHe was under the water in seconds. Luckily the pond was shallow, and when he hit the bottom, Flapjax pushed his hind legs off from the slimy pond floor and flew back up to the surface, panicking. He performed this move a few more times, arms flailing as he surfaced, trying to grasp something – anything – to pull himself out of the water. But there was nothing around him but ice…

*****

Flapjax never gave Libby enough credit. Did he really think that she wouldn’t realize he had snuck away? All he had done lately was sit in front of the TV, staring at the Olympians. And Flapjax was never one to ignore the smell of treats, even at his grumpiest.

So when Flapjax failed to return to snack and snuggle, Libby knew he was up to something no good. She searched the house for him, but he was nowhere to be found. And that was when she noticed the back door had been left slightly open.

Libby started to cry – Flapjax had run away! It was snowy out, and freezing cold! He couldn’t survive out there, not when he had been a house bear for so long! Even Flapjax’s snacking habits couldn’t have given him enough insulation in this weather, and he certainly wasn’t fierce enough to fight off the wild animals lurking out there…

Libby begged Dad to go search for him, and together they bundled up, putting on layers of snow pants and jackets and water-proof boots before heading out into the cold winter night.

*****

GoldfishFlapjax was ready to give up. He would just stay in the pond all winter, living with the fish he now saw huddled at the bottom to stay warm. (Fish were smart!) His fur would get pretty gross with all the pond slime, but that’s what baths were for. He shuddered at the thought. Baths were the worst.

But then he thought of Libby — she would be so worried. So he tried one final time to escape the cold, murky water of the fishpond.

Flapjax pushed with all his might off the bottom of the pond, leaping up, up, up through the surface of the water and into the air. And he kept going. He was flying!

Nope, not flying. Those were hands under his armpits.

It was Dad. And he did NOT look pleased. He held Flapjax’s dripping fur far away from him as he passed the soggy bear down to a teary, red-faced Libby. But Libby ignored the yucky green-brown pond muck that coated Flapjax’s typically white fur and squeezed him so hard all of the water he had soaked up in the pond ran out all over her.

But Libby didn’t care. She had Flapjax back.

*****

Mom, on the other hand, did care. She cared very much. She took one look at Flapjax, picked him up with two fingers, holding him as far away as possible, and plunged him into a waiting bubble bath in the kitchen sink.

flapjax the bear in a sink bubble bath


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